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There are many kinds of fruits: apples, oranges, pears, but, perhaps, most popular of all are grapes.

Is the punctuation in this sentence correct? If not, how should this sentence be punctuated?

  • It would be better if you explain your reasoning for the comma placement you have, Otherwise, this would be proofreading, which is off-topic. – user3169 May 7 '16 at 18:16
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I think there are two problems with the punctuation.


One problem is that perhaps should not be set off with commas. Many adverbs do get set off with commas:

  • Fortunately, grapes are the most popular fruit. (comma is necessary)
  • Hopefully, grapes will remain popular well into the future. (comma is optional)

but perhaps is not one of them:

  • Perhaps grapes are the most popular fruit. (no comma is possible)

(Incidentally, even for adverbs that do get set off with commas, many style guides suggest that a comma is not needed between a coordinating conjunction and such an adverb; that is, many style guides advocate , but fortunately, rather than , but, fortunately,.)


The other problem is that the comma before but does not work here, because of the colon: a comma never has broader scope than an earlier colon. So, for example, all of these are fine:

  • That's what he wanted: for me to leave, and never return. (OK, because colon has broader scope)
  • I left, because that's what he wanted: for me to leave. (OK, because comma comes first)
  • That's what he wanted, or at least what he said he wanted: for me to leave. (OK, because colon has broader scope and comma comes first)

but this is not:

  • *That's what he wanted: for me to leave, so I left. (bad, because colon comes first but comma has broader scope)

To fix that, we just replace the comma with a semicolon:

  • That's what he wanted: for me to leave; so I left.

Fixing both of these problems, we get:

There are many kinds of fruits: apples, oranges, pears; but perhaps most popular of all are grapes.


Aside from the punctuation, I'd also say that the sentence sounds a bit strange because, let's face it, most people already know that there are many kinds of fruit. There's no need to be dramatic about it. The idea of grapes being the most popular fruit, however, is surprising. So I'd probably write something more like:

Grapes may be the most popular fruit — even more popular than apples, oranges, or pears.

(together with some justification for the claim, or at least some idea of what I mean by "popular").

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